Beall’s sex-abuse victim bill goes to Brown’s desk

A bill to re-open a window so certain sexual-abuse victims can sue the organizations that put them at risk is headed for Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The state Senate on Friday concurred in Assembly amendments to SB 131 by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, which closes a gap that has prevented certain victims from seeking restitution.

A 2003 law that passed the Legislature with unanimous votes had expanded the statute of limitations for victims to file claims against third parties who knew their employees were a danger to children but still allowed them to work with kids. It gave victims over age 26 the opportunity to sue if they discovered their emotional and physical problems stemmed from the abuse they suffered as children, giving them three years from the time of discovery to file lawsuits. It also opened a one-year window – from 2003 to 2004 – for victims who were previously barred from filing.

But that law didn’t do anything for victims over 26 who made connection between their abuse and their problems after 2004. If signed into law, SB 131 would let those people sue and seek restitution in 2014.

The bill had been opposed by groups including the California Association of Private School Organizations, California Catholic Conference, California Council of Nonprofit Organizations and California State Alliance of YMCA.

“I want to thank my colleagues who had the courage to stand up for the victims of sexual abuse despite intense opposition,’’ Beall said in a news release today. “California must not retreat in the fight against child abuse. We are moving forward for the sake of the victims and for justice. SB 131 accomplishes that. It will make organizations accountable for knowingly protecting employees who sexually abused children in the work place.’’

The state Senate passed the bill 21-10 in May; the Assembly passed it 44-15 on Wednesday; and the state Senate concurred 21-8 on Friday.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    I wonder if the opposing groups will bribe Brown to veto the bill?

  • Judy Jones

    Thank you California legislators. Now hopefully the Governor will sign this bill and make it a law..

    Cardinals and bishops are still covering up sex crimes against kids, they are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they still are not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by all the bishops who created it. They don’t have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting innocent kids. There are many of these bishops who need to be held accountable. Until that happens nothing will change.
    Also, those in other institutional settings, like Boy Scouts, universities, summer camps, day care centers, etc, will not be able to keep protecting their images, instead of protecting innocent children. Plus it is a start to creating laws that will protect kids in any setting, private or public.

    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day, so silence is not an options anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    “SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) We also have members of abuse by nuns, rabbis, bishops, teachers, ministers, in orphanages, summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    SNAP should include legislative bodies in state capitals, county seats, city halls. Maybe SD’s Filner grabbed some little behinds, too.

  • gloria sullivan

    Even if the laws are changed, what do you do in the mean time , with an institution that will Not Acknowledge that it is “their Catholic ordained People” that are the perpetrators of these CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. It almost seems like a useless fight, if GOD WERE NOT AT IT’S CENTER!

  • Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

    Along with Senator Jim Beall, I want to thank the members of the California legislature who “had the courage to stand up for the victims of sexual abuse despite intense opposition.” Organizations ARE responsible and accountable “for knowingly protecting employees who sexually abused children in the work place.”

    It is nothing less than an egregious moral failure for any organization to oppose such badly needed legislation and it is unconscionable so for the bishops of California and the CA Catholic Conference.

    I pray that Governor Jerry Brown signs this bill into law as early as possible this week.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Advocate for Victim/Survivors & Legislative Reform
    New Castle, Delaware
    Founding member of CatholicWhistleblowers.org

  • Jim Robertson

    Thank you legislators of California for doing right by victims.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    A slightly disturbed acquaintance told me he was abused by a neighbors pet dog. He says the owner was told about it but did nothing. Both the dog and its owner are dead. Has he any legal recourse? Also, a kindly old German woman said she was raped by 7 GIs in 1945. It ruined her love life. She complained about it but nobody lifted a digit for her. She now wants to sue the Govt.